Passive vs. Active Fire Protection
It is common for people to confuse the terms active fire protection and passive fire protection. Although these are different concepts, they are intended to complement one another when used properly. This is why it is important to learn the differences between them.
With passive fire protection, it is difficult for a fire to start and spread within a building. Included in the design are fire walls and doors, along with fire retardant materials that are critical in preventing a large fire from spreading. Overall, both active and passive fire protection system saves property and life.
Fire Walls and Doors compartmentalize a fire and create an oxygen barrier, working as a type of shield. Essentially, the fire must burn through the doors and walls in order to pass. The inclusion of an oxygen barrier creates a choke point. The fire uses all of the oxygen within that compartment so that it hopefully extinguishes on its own. Fire doors act as a crossover measure.
Fire retardant materials help stop or slow an out-of-control fire. While it is almost impossible to design a building comprised completely of fireproof materials, the goal is to use as many such materials in the construction as possible. Modern-day buildings are typically constructed with far more fire retardant materials than their predecessors were.
Protection Against Fire
In active fire protection, the goal is to alert occupants in a building of the presence of a fire while simultaneously working to put the fire out. Elements in this category include sprinkler systems, fire alarms, and fire extinguishers.
By providing notification of impending danger, this system helps people determine when evacuation is necessary. Passive fire protection also provides occupants with enough time to escape the building. In some cases, automated firefighting measures may be sufficient in putting out localized fires, but the real goal is to slow a large fire so that occupants have more time to evacuate. For optimal protection, both active fire protection and passive fire protection should be considered.
The bottom line is that active fire protection and passive fire protection are intended to save lives. When designing a building, it is important to give careful thought to these two systems. When properly installed, these systems give occupants greater peace of mind.